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sabastudent123456
04-24-2012, 10:19 AM
I thought I'd come on here and give people some of my opinions - I am a recent 5th semester grad. This is going to be a really long post but hopefully it will give future applicants something real to base their decision on. If you want more info, please feel free to PM me. The basic summary: Don't go to Saba, go somewhere else even if it costs more.

In my 1st or 2nd semester, I would have still told my friends or colleagues to come to Saba, but now I can't do that anymore. This school has gone overboard in terms of failing and cutting people out. Now I know that people will just call me a whiner or tell me that those students can't handle it or w/e, but I just don't think that's the case anymore. I was fortunate to make it through all 5 semesters without a hiccup...wasn't even close to failing anything ever. But when I hear about the exams and class averages of the semesters below me, it is definitely a concern. I don't know that I'd even make it through anymore with the way it is now...I'll give some reasons about why I'm not a fan of this school anymore:

Students are failing courses like micro because they end up with 74.x - yes, technically there has to be a cutoff, but what I don't get is if these students could pass with an 85 or 90 on the presentation in micro, why not give it to them so they can pass? But nope, this school won't do something like that. They'd rather fail the kids - and at least for us and the semester below the presentation grades wouldn't even get posted until after shelf grades are back so it would be easy to adjust the presentations and let people pass.

Still on micro...Dr. J that teaches bacteria - my goodness I can't believe they allow him to teach. He's never had a class avg above 80 on his block in 3 semesters. He can't teach and he can't write questions. What's worse is that now the virus guy is gone too so this clown might teach more of that which is just bad news for students. But there's no accountability for him...when students get below 75, they fail - when profs write exams that have averages below 75 it's apparently the students' fault.

There seem to be more and more class averages that are in the high 60 or low 70 range. I'm sorry, but when that happens either the prof can't each or their exam was too hard. Class averages should never be that low because the students simply aren't that dumb. The only time that an average like that might be acceptable is in the beginning of 1st semester when you still have people here that shouldn't be and when people haven't learned that you actually have to study in medical school.

Next semester the 3rds will be going 8-5 until June...why!? 3rd semester is really rough - IMO the hardest semester that there is, now you keep them in school for longer and take away their study/relaxation time? The school had it right when it moved ethics to 1st block and had psyc blocks 2-5 so now it just reverted so both classes stretch the whole semester. And they throw in an extra micro lab on Tuesdays just to boot...what a useless waste of time.

One more thing I don't understand is why low yield courses are so hard here now. Histo used to be a joke when I took it, but apparently now they claim that it's important for path so they've clamped down on it a lot. What a load of garbage...you learn the histo that you need to learn in path. I've had something like 20 pure histo questions out of 2000 on my qbank. Same thing goes for genetics - there's no reason why 10+ people out of a class of 70 should be failing a course like that...but they do because it's unnecessarily hard. Histo had a few class averages in the 60s and low 70s this semester and a bunch of people failed/dropped genetics - I guess it's life, but I don't like it. Our class had 7 people fail histo with no one dropping and 4 people fail genetics with no one dropping - those are much more acceptable numbers.

Then we get to the exit...so for the last few semesters the raw score needed to pass has been a 65. Last semester it was 66 but then was brought down to a 65. This semester...boom we're up to 68! And according to Dean L, it's staying at 68. The worst part of it all is that one person actually got a 65 and would have passed in any other semester, but they failed the person this semester. I couldn't believe that...you can't just let the person pass and start your new rules next semester? Nope, that would be too nice of them. Though I will point out that from the info we received, that decision was made by the higher powers in Devens, not by anyone on the island. Regardless, I guess it shows you how much the leadership of the school cares.

While I'm at it...the research paper - so they want us to do a research paper...ok, fine - but they won't even give us proper access to articles so we can get the appropriate information we need to complete it. Instead we're stuck bugging the librarian or our friends who go to universities with proper access to articles to get what we need.

Our class was lucky...we graduated with 78 people. I think the new 5ths are down below 50 now. The new 4ths can't have more than 60 I'd imagine. The new 3rds...well who knows - from what I heard, 20+ of them are leaving the school and a bunch more failed something in 2nd. What's the point of those numbers? Over 50% of people will either fail out or leave - and I'm not counting people who just fail one course and still make it through. If that was in 1st semester, I'd chalk it up to people coming to the school that should have never been there, but it seems more and more like people are failing after getting by 1st no problem.


There are many more things that I could add to the list, but they've escaped my mind for now. Like I mentioned at the start, do yourself a favor...go somewhere else for medical school until Saba gets its act together and goes back to being the tough but fair school that it once was.

Doc711
04-24-2012, 01:01 PM
I thought I'd come on here and give people some of my opinions - I am a recent 5th semester grad. This is going to be a really long post but hopefully it will give future applicants something real to base their decision on. If you want more info, please feel free to PM me. The basic summary: Don't go to Saba, go somewhere else even if it costs more.

In my 1st or 2nd semester, I would have still told my friends or colleagues to come to Saba, but now I can't do that anymore. This school has gone overboard in terms of failing and cutting people out. Now I know that people will just call me a whiner or tell me that those students can't handle it or w/e, but I just don't think that's the case anymore. I was fortunate to make it through all 5 semesters without a hiccup...wasn't even close to failing anything ever. But when I hear about the exams and class averages of the semesters below me, it is definitely a concern. I don't know that I'd even make it through anymore with the way it is now...I'll give some reasons about why I'm not a fan of this school anymore:

Students are failing courses like micro because they end up with 74.x - yes, technically there has to be a cutoff, but what I don't get is if these students could pass with an 85 or 90 on the presentation in micro, why not give it to them so they can pass? But nope, this school won't do something like that. They'd rather fail the kids - and at least for us and the semester below the presentation grades wouldn't even get posted until after shelf grades are back so it would be easy to adjust the presentations and let people pass.

Still on micro...Dr. J that teaches bacteria - my goodness I can't believe they allow him to teach. He's never had a class avg above 80 on his block in 3 semesters. He can't teach and he can't write questions. What's worse is that now the virus guy is gone too so this clown might teach more of that which is just bad news for students. But there's no accountability for him...when students get below 75, they fail - when profs write exams that have averages below 75 it's apparently the students' fault.

There seem to be more and more class averages that are in the high 60 or low 70 range. I'm sorry, but when that happens either the prof can't each or their exam was too hard. Class averages should never be that low because the students simply aren't that dumb. The only time that an average like that might be acceptable is in the beginning of 1st semester when you still have people here that shouldn't be and when people haven't learned that you actually have to study in medical school.

Next semester the 3rds will be going 8-5 until June...why!? 3rd semester is really rough - IMO the hardest semester that there is, now you keep them in school for longer and take away their study/relaxation time? The school had it right when it moved ethics to 1st block and had psyc blocks 2-5 so now it just reverted so both classes stretch the whole semester. And they throw in an extra micro lab on Tuesdays just to boot...what a useless waste of time.

One more thing I don't understand is why low yield courses are so hard here now. Histo used to be a joke when I took it, but apparently now they claim that it's important for path so they've clamped down on it a lot. What a load of garbage...you learn the histo that you need to learn in path. I've had something like 20 pure histo questions out of 2000 on my qbank. Same thing goes for genetics - there's no reason why 10+ people out of a class of 70 should be failing a course like that...but they do because it's unnecessarily hard. Histo had a few class averages in the 60s and low 70s this semester and a bunch of people failed/dropped genetics - I guess it's life, but I don't like it. Our class had 7 people fail histo with no one dropping and 4 people fail genetics with no one dropping - those are much more acceptable numbers.

Then we get to the exit...so for the last few semesters the raw score needed to pass has been a 65. Last semester it was 66 but then was brought down to a 65. This semester...boom we're up to 68! And according to Dean L, it's staying at 68. The worst part of it all is that one person actually got a 65 and would have passed in any other semester, but they failed the person this semester. I couldn't believe that...you can't just let the person pass and start your new rules next semester? Nope, that would be too nice of them. Though I will point out that from the info we received, that decision was made by the higher powers in Devens, not by anyone on the island. Regardless, I guess it shows you how much the leadership of the school cares.

While I'm at it...the research paper - so they want us to do a research paper...ok, fine - but they won't even give us proper access to articles so we can get the appropriate information we need to complete it. Instead we're stuck bugging the librarian or our friends who go to universities with proper access to articles to get what we need.

Our class was lucky...we graduated with 78 people. I think the new 5ths are down below 50 now. The new 4ths can't have more than 60 I'd imagine. The new 3rds...well who knows - from what I heard, 20+ of them are leaving the school and a bunch more failed something in 2nd. What's the point of those numbers? Over 50% of people will either fail out or leave - and I'm not counting people who just fail one course and still make it through. If that was in 1st semester, I'd chalk it up to people coming to the school that should have never been there, but it seems more and more like people are failing after getting by 1st no problem.


There are many more things that I could add to the list, but they've escaped my mind for now. Like I mentioned at the start, do yourself a favor...go somewhere else for medical school until Saba gets its act together and goes back to being the tough but fair school that it once was.

wise words indeed

Untel
04-24-2012, 01:25 PM
Nice post sabastudent123456,

Iím a prospective student for fall 2012 and SABA is #1 on my list, AUA #2 , ROSS #3 and SGU #4, MUA #5, SMU #6, for many reasons including class size, quality of the installations, tuitions, drop out rate and the administration.

Actually, Iíd rather go to SABA than SGU or AUA for many reasons. I heard about the weed out and the drop out rate at SABA. I heard also a lot of good stuffs about this school.

Thank you for your input. If you have more to say please post.

Intrepid1
04-24-2012, 03:03 PM
The professors and administration are still largely the same as they were 5 semesters ago. I find it difficult to believe they all radically changed the way they teach or manage classes. I am assuming there was no change in admissions practices and the quality of each entering class.

It is far more likely that nothing actually changed. Students didn't all of a sudden start doing badly. The recent 5th semester class is just an anomaly; unusual for its high number of achieving students that made it through the pipeline. So other things look bad in comparison, but are in fact normal. Low averages and attrition are par for the course.

A caveat needs to be mentioned about the exit exam. I believe the one person who failed it has also failed other courses before. Getting a score 65 is equivalent to a barely passing 188. It may be in their best interest to stay and study more. So, is the administration being "unfair" by raising the pass from 65 to 68? Maybe. Are they doing this person a favor? Probably.

benevolo
04-24-2012, 04:00 PM
#1 These threads come up continuously over and over again. It's a challenging program, and people fail. I read the same horror stories before I started at Saba ~3-4 years ago about how it was a "different school now" and "they want you to fail". If you're a strong student then you will be fine. Even if they had a mission to 'fail' people, the people they are trying to fail are the bottom students. So just make sure you are in the top 50% and you'll be fine.

#2 If you are doing so poorly on the exit exam that you have to worry about getting a 65 or a 68, you aren't going to match to even the worst primary care residency in the states as an IMG/FMG. The exit exam is pretty reliable so if you're predicted to get a score in the 180s on Step 1, your app will get thrown in the garbage by almost every residency program. There used to be 6000 surplus residency positions every year in the US. By 2015 that is supposed to be 0.

maladdy85
04-27-2012, 12:55 PM
I think the changes in student performance reflect several things:

1) New teachers = new tests. All the documents and reviews that upper semesters pass down are no longer relevant when there is a new exam. People need to start figuring out that professor's testing style from scratch. Dr. J is a perfect example of this. I agree, his tests completely lack a clinically relevant focus, but as someone who passed block 3 with a B before the curve, I tell you it is doable, IF YOU STUDY. So many people are looking for short cuts and review files instead of putting the time in. With a new prof/new exam, you must put the time in, and many people in my class still tried to use the short cuts on that exam and paid for it with bad grades.

2) I'll go ahead and address the pink elephant in the room. PEOPLE HAVE BEEN CHEATING. We all know it, and admin knows it. Admin is cracking down on it, and all the exams are getting re-written. Of course the class averages are going down. All the stuff that people used to cheat with (and some of the legitimate reviews people study from) is now worthless. I would love to see how the exam distributions have changed as well. I remember back in genetics we had a ridiculous bimodal test that was A's and F's, and it was because there was a group of people with a cheat, and the rest of the class studied the right way. Those of us who put the effort in and failed because it was a hard test, received no curve because the average was an 86, due to the high A's of those with cheats. There was the possibility of cheating on our pharm shelf this past semester, and when we showed up day of the exam, we were slapped with a surprise cumulative written by Dr. M and Dr. B instead. Our average was abysmal, but obviously no one cheated.

3) I think admissions might be getting lax. The calibur of incoming student is declining, as evidenced by the larger number of American students being accepted. Let's face it, most of the American students have applications with stats well below the Canadians (as an American with terrible stats, I have no problem saying this. Admissions was definitely lax when they admitted me). I would postulate that the greater the number of American students in a class, the more likely it will be that that class will have low test averages, simply because the students that comprise the class are less capable than other groups. Again, there are exceptions to everything, this is not a rule, but overall, it seems like the quality of the incoming students is declining. I had this exact conversation with Dr. G. (one of the biochem guys), who cannot fathom why the class is struggling with questions that are the same difficulty as the have always been. HOWEVER, I wonder if this might be due to the addition of DPR to the curriculum, which is causing the lower semesters to stay later and thus have less study time. Unfortunately, this provides no explanation for the attrition in my class since we are pre-DPR, and still had a ridiculous attrition.

Just my opinions. Again, as long as incoming students are AWARE of what they will be up against in coming to Saba, I see no problem with the school making things harder on us so we are less likely to fail Step 1, and so that the school becomes more competitive/better respected with time.

maladdy85
04-27-2012, 01:05 PM
Although I have to agree with the OP on the exit exam situation from the standpoint that it is COMPLETELY unfair to change the pass rate for an exam AFTER students have written it. I feel terrible for that student that was told they passed and then finds out 2 days later that they are repeating. Ridiculous.

Intrepid1
04-27-2012, 02:48 PM
Although I have to agree with the OP on the exit exam situation from the standpoint that it is COMPLETELY unfair to change the pass rate for an exam AFTER students have written it. I feel terrible for that student that was told they passed and then finds out 2 days later that they are repeating. Ridiculous.

When the course director told the student they passed, it was from knowledge of the past trend, without having gotten final word from the US office... which always sets the pass rate after the exam is done.. It may have been held constant for the last few semesters, but there was never a guarantee that it wouldn't change.

Untel
04-27-2012, 03:09 PM
When the course director told the student they passed, it was from knowledge of the past trend, without having gotten final word from the US office... which always sets the pass rate after the exam is done.. It may have been held constant for the last few semesters, but there was never a guarantee that it wouldn't change.

Explained like that, it makes sense the passing note may increase, even after the test was taken. Since all the decisions are not made locally it explains that kind of situation.

Thatís good to know!

payme2
04-28-2012, 09:20 AM
I would recommend Saba because of the same reasons listed above. As a student I would want to know ASAP if my chances for matching into any residency is possible. So that I can reassess my plans and save myself from anymore wasted time and money. The residency match is getting more difficult and you really need to be better than the average US student. And Saba does a great job of finding these students.

I had a sub 2.5 undergrad GPA. And I chose Saba over the other big 4 carib schools b/c of their difficult curriculum and affordability. I tend to do the bare minimum and it was no different in medical school. I would cheat or take short cuts(study from recycled/previous tests) and I would study just enough to stay within the average. I know for a fact if I went to another school where cheating is more rampant or the passing standards are lower, I would have done less, and probably failed my Step 1. But being an average Saba student, I was surprised to have received my passing USMLE Step 1 score in the 250s.

I figured I post a more positive view of Saba curriculum. There's a lot of students who succeed but you dont' see much positivity in these forums. The success stories come off as bragging and so they refrain from posting. And the successful students are too busy ... winning... to bother posting in these forums.


EDITED: reducing cheating by making new exams is only a benefit to the students. I would bitch and complain too, but in the end, it's a good thing.

benevolo
04-28-2012, 02:27 PM
Not surprising if people are failing at higher rates now due to profs making new exams and cracking down on cheating. That's a good thing then. As I said before, if you're not a cheater, you work hard, and you know more than the bottom half of the class you will not have any problems. If an exam was really difficult they will not fail the whole class, especially if cheaters are removed from the equation so you see everyone's true performance and they can scale appropriately.

sabastudent123456
04-29-2012, 01:42 AM
If you're a strong student then you will be fine. Even if they had a mission to 'fail' people, the people they are trying to fail are the bottom students. So just make sure you are in the top 50% and you'll be fine.

#2 If you are doing so poorly on the exit exam that you have to worry about getting a 65 or a 68, you aren't going to match to even the worst primary care residency in the states as an IMG/FMG. The exit exam is pretty reliable so if you're predicted to get a score in the 180s on Step 1, your app will get thrown in the garbage by almost every residency program. There used to be 6000 surplus residency positions every year in the US. By 2015 that is supposed to be 0.

I agree benevolo...if you're a top student, you will still succeed - it doesn't matter how hard they try and make your life. But...when you think about it, how many people from an entry class make it through all 5 semesters straight through? Yes excuses can be made that some people leave for non-academic reasons (injuries, hate island, get into a CDN/US school, etc.) but when it comes down to it, more than half of an entry class is going to be behind or gone. Now I think the newer classes start around 115 so to think that by the end of it there will probably be around 40-50 making it straight through is a little crazy. So basically, you'll have more people leaving (for whatever reason) or failing out than you will have making it straight through. I think people at the very least deserve to know that before coming to Saba. If people still want to come, obviously my post isn't going to stop them. But perhaps there will be one or two people out there that go somewhere else and still end up becoming doctors whereas they would have had a hard time at Saba. Lets face it, Saba is the probably the "hardest" school...or at least that's what I hear from people who left Saba and went to one of the other big schools in the Carib and who will almost certainly still become doctors.


I think the changes in student performance reflect several things:

1) New teachers = new tests. All the documents and reviews that upper semesters pass down are no longer relevant when there is a new exam. People need to start figuring out that professor's testing style from scratch. Dr. J is a perfect example of this. I agree, his tests completely lack a clinically relevant focus, but as someone who passed block 3 with a B before the curve, I tell you it is doable, IF YOU STUDY. So many people are looking for short cuts and review files instead of putting the time in. With a new prof/new exam, you must put the time in, and many people in my class still tried to use the short cuts on that exam and paid for it with bad grades.

2) I'll go ahead and address the pink elephant in the room. PEOPLE HAVE BEEN CHEATING. We all know it, and admin knows it. Admin is cracking down on it, and all the exams are getting re-written. Of course the class averages are going down. All the stuff that people used to cheat with (and some of the legitimate reviews people study from) is now worthless. I would love to see how the exam distributions have changed as well. I remember back in genetics we had a ridiculous bimodal test that was A's and F's, and it was because there was a group of people with a cheat, and the rest of the class studied the right way. Those of us who put the effort in and failed because it was a hard test, received no curve because the average was an 86, due to the high A's of those with cheats. There was the possibility of cheating on our pharm shelf this past semester, and when we showed up day of the exam, we were slapped with a surprise cumulative written by Dr. M and Dr. B instead. Our average was abysmal, but obviously no one cheated.

3) I think admissions might be getting lax. The calibur of incoming student is declining, as evidenced by the larger number of American students being accepted. Let's face it, most of the American students have applications with stats well below the Canadians (as an American with terrible stats, I have no problem saying this. Admissions was definitely lax when they admitted me). I would postulate that the greater the number of American students in a class, the more likely it will be that that class will have low test averages, simply because the students that comprise the class are less capable than other groups. Again, there are exceptions to everything, this is not a rule, but overall, it seems like the quality of the incoming students is declining. I had this exact conversation with Dr. G. (one of the biochem guys), who cannot fathom why the class is struggling with questions that are the same difficulty as the have always been. HOWEVER, I wonder if this might be due to the addition of DPR to the curriculum, which is causing the lower semesters to stay later and thus have less study time. Unfortunately, this provides no explanation for the attrition in my class since we are pre-DPR, and still had a ridiculous attrition.

Just my opinions. Again, as long as incoming students are AWARE of what they will be up against in coming to Saba, I see no problem with the school making things harder on us so we are less likely to fail Step 1, and so that the school becomes more competitive/better respected with time.

Good points maladdy...but you admitted yourself that Dr. J's test lacks clinical relevance even though he seems to think that his questions are great because they're somehow vignettes. What is he really teaching us though? I know now after studying for the exit that he really didn't teach me anything. His test has no impact on what you know in bacteria and it certainly doesn't give you an indication on how you're going to do on bacteria related questions on the exit or qbank or USMLE world or anything that actually seems to matter. Regardless, this isn't supposed to be a Dr. J bashathon, I just didn't see the point of his exam is all and he has really dominated every class so far on his exam so it's clearly not that everyone is stupid, it's him that is the issue.

Yes everyone knows about the cheating...I wish they had always changed things from day 1 to avoid this nonsense because you're right, all it did was inflate averages on exams and mess over the legit crowd. But that still doesn't excuse the fact that if a class average is a low 70 or even worse, it's either a crappy exam or the material wasn't well taught. Change all the questions in the world, I don't care - but people should be able to at least have a passing average on the exam when you're up into 3rd and 4th semester if it's a fair exam. It's also great that they're rewriting exams to try and create an even playing field, but what are they doing about that other advantage some (and seemingly many) students have? I think you know what I'm talking about...is it fair that some people get "help" to focus? They should do something about that too if they really want to make an even playing field, but I doubt that's ever going to happen.

Maybe you're right about the lax admissions...sure there are a bunch of people that get in who have no business being in medical school, but I assume most of those people are gone by the end of 1st or at the latest 2nd. I don't see why so many people have to fail past that. Maybe someone who started 3 years ago can chime in on this and let us know how classes did back then. I'm under the assumption that even back when Saba took 90 students that they still had more graduating than they do now (with the exception of our class), which just means class sizes are bigger and more are failing - we know it's a business but it still sucks.


I would recommend Saba because of the same reasons listed above. As a student I would want to know ASAP if my chances for matching into any residency is possible. So that I can reassess my plans and save myself from anymore wasted time and money. The residency match is getting more difficult and you really need to be better than the average US student. And Saba does a great job of finding these students.

I had a sub 2.5 undergrad GPA. And I chose Saba over the other big 4 carib schools b/c of their difficult curriculum and affordability. I tend to do the bare minimum and it was no different in medical school. I would cheat or take short cuts(study from recycled/previous tests) and I would study just enough to stay within the average. I know for a fact if I went to another school where cheating is more rampant or the passing standards are lower, I would have done less, and probably failed my Step 1. But being an average Saba student, I was surprised to have received my passing USMLE Step 1 score in the 250s.

I figured I post a more positive view of Saba curriculum. There's a lot of students who succeed but you dont' see much positivity in these forums. The success stories come off as bragging and so they refrain from posting. And the successful students are too busy ... winning... to bother posting in these forums.


EDITED: reducing cheating by making new exams is only a benefit to the students. I would bitch and complain too, but in the end, it's a good thing.

Congrats on your step score. Saba's pass rate is now what like 99.x% for 1st time step 1? That's great - I'm glad to know that if I make it through the program I'll almost certainly pass too. But the fact is that there are more than just a couple of people that the school fails out that could have not only passed step 1 but done decently well - and Dr. C in Clin Med told us the same thing. So I think my advice is directed more at the people who fit or could potentially fit that category, which is more people than I could have ever expected before I came to Saba.

Like I mentioned...I made it through with absolutely no problem - I wasn't even close to failing anything ever. But that doesn't mean that I think everything is peachy on the rock. Even if you don't think the curriculum isn't any harder, the fact that there is more to do in most semesters now and less time to study has to have some sort of impact. I know for me if I was in school 8-5 every day in 3rd semester I would have had a tougher time getting through it.


Not surprising if people are failing at higher rates now due to profs making new exams and cracking down on cheating. That's a good thing then. As I said before, if you're not a cheater, you work hard, and you know more than the bottom half of the class you will not have any problems. If an exam was really difficult they will not fail the whole class, especially if cheaters are removed from the equation so you see everyone's true performance and they can scale appropriately.

Take all the cheating away and make the class avg a 69 with over half the class failing and they probably won't do anything. Sad, but that's just what I've come to expect from the school.

Weddell
04-29-2012, 09:34 AM
Hey Sabastudent, tell us about the time you guys wrote the Path shelf!

It's true, some subject areas are over or under-emphasized, but that's pretty much unavoidable due to the profs being human, as well as some of them being non-physicians. It's a tough school, a tough curriculum, and a tough island to live on (at least for me). I feel like it's going to pay off in the end, even if it takes a chunk of my soul and sanity with it, and I'm ok with that trade-off. Does it suck? Sometimes, it definitely does. And that's ok.

The recent crack-down on cheating is, IMHO, a really good thing - it's not a good feeling when you study your behind off and get smoked by a slacker using "notes" from previous semesters. This levels the playing field - as it should.

The one thing that does make me weep is the new DPR thing, especially for the current 3rds, for all the aforementioned reasons. 3rd is dense. It requires a serious time commitment. Why on earth the admin would want to make their day 8-5 instead of 8-3 - which was bad enough - is beyond me. "Sheer malice" would be near the top of my list of potential reasons. Nothing to do but wait and see how that plays out but to any 3rds reading this, my heart bleeds for you guys.

Evereadyclassic
04-30-2012, 05:28 PM
#1 These threads come up continuously over and over again. It's a challenging program, and people fail. I read the same horror stories before I started at Saba ~3-4 years ago about how it was a "different school now" and "they want you to fail". If you're a strong student then you will be fine. Even if they had a mission to 'fail' people, the people they are trying to fail are the bottom students. So just make sure you are in the top 50% and you'll be fine.

#2 If you are doing so poorly on the exit exam that you have to worry about getting a 65 or a 68, you aren't going to match to even the worst primary care residency in the states as an IMG/FMG. The exit exam is pretty reliable so if you're predicted to get a score in the 180s on Step 1, your app will get thrown in the garbage by almost every residency program. There used to be 6000 surplus residency positions every year in the US. By 2015 that is supposed to be 0.

Couldn't agree more with this post. When I started, there were the same horror stories. Lots of people claiming that Saba had changed and that no matter how much you studied you would be failed out. Having graduated and matched to a residency, I can tell you that the its tough, but doable.

To the original poster. Not to dismiss what you're saying, but having only just finished the island you don't have a tremendous amount of perspective.

Saba prepares people very well for getting residency. While I agree that it has issues related to supporting students when they struggle, a failing grade is a failing grade. I have a real issue with anyone thinking that an 89.4 should just be rounded up to a 90 to get an A, and I have an issue with anyone thinking that a 74.4 should be rounded up to a 75.

In terms of your exit exam, I agree, it shows a lack of academic integrity to not advertise well in advance that the passing grade would be changed to a 68. I think that's inexcusable for Saba to do. But, at the same time, you need to realize that the USMLE just raised the passing 2 digit score on Step 1 by the same amount. This was not an arbitrary decision, but one designed to maintain the Licensure track record that Saba maintains in order to be accredited.

Competition is getting tougher, but Saba is continuing to match students to the most competitive residencies in Canada and the US. Nobody claims its easy.

benevolo
05-02-2012, 05:28 PM
Another thing: it's a difficult program, and there's no reason to think that the class average should be a passing grade. Most of your classmates are not cut out for medicine; that's why they're in the Caribbean. It shouldn't be surprising that 50% of the class fails or falls behind when the class is composed of many people who were rightly rejected from US/Canadian schools.

Some people probably fall through the cracks and fail when they shouldn't have, but it's better to play it safe and over-fail people than let weak students pass through. I agree that you should be aware of the failure rate at Saba before starting. I also think it's helpful for students. Better to fail out in semesters 1-3 than to make it through all 10 semesters and fail to get a residency.

rokshana
05-02-2012, 06:09 PM
do you really graduate from 5th term? you don't get a diploma do you?

Intrepid1
05-02-2012, 07:43 PM
do you really graduate from 5th term? you don't get a diploma do you?

"Graduation" from basic sciences is just a formality. They give you a certificate of completion, but it has no real significance.

seattle
05-05-2012, 10:27 AM
@Sabastudent123456 -

I read your posts thoroughly and understand some of your concerns/comments. The bottom line is that in today's internet age, where prospectives have quick access to such forums (something that did not exist 15 years ago), it is truly the responsibility of such prospectives to do a thorough research of pros and cons of these Caribbean programs and then self-assess honestly the probability of getting thru the program. And in that sense you and others are doing exactly what should be done - good open discussions on various viewpoints that express your personal experience with said program. Then, let the responsible prospective make their own risk assessment.

As you well know by now, Saba and ALL Caribbean programs are primarily FOR PROFIT business models FIRST. To do this administration will accept the maximum number of students that the island will accomodate (which has reached it's maximum point by now). They well know that a certain percentage of students will not make it thru the program and will be self-terminated by the end of second semester.

Now what of the remaining students beyond 2nd semester? The number of clinical spots is limited and will always fluctutate based on certain factors out of control of the Saba administration office in Devens, MA. Hence, the school does vary the level of difficulty to match the expected demand. So, your suspicion is correct - the exam difficulty level is adjusted to match fluctuations in clincial spot availability. Is it fair? Well, it is definitely not ideal to say the least and does not occur at U.S. programs but the numbers are kept in check with clinical spots at U.S. schools.

All Caribbean programs (and Saba is no exception - trust me I have been associated with this school since the mid-1990s) are in many senses a stepping stone for the faculty as well. Some use it as a nice means for retirement income, others use it to gain a residency spot in the U.S. This has not changed over the past 15 years. Now that's a perspective for all you readers out there! But that is just the nature of the Caribbean game. Where I am going with this is that the teaching will not necessarily be stellar in all cases and exams are not always going to be written under ideal circumstances unfortunately - a bypproduct of some of these individuals being non-physicians and not really having a "practical" clinical perspective on subject matter and heavily use a research approach. But that is a downfall of U.S. programs as well. In a ideal situation all medical schools would be taught by physicians in their respective areas of expertise with minimal input from true research only type individuals.

By the way - the issue of keeping graduating numbers from the island in line with fluctuations in clinical spots is very much a response to the California Medical Board coming down hard on schools such as Ross and AUA that have an over-abundance of students on waiting lists. This became an issue a few years back.

Untel
05-05-2012, 11:58 AM
This is a very interesting point of view. It shed some light on what is going on down there. As doctor wannabe, it’s not always obvious to see clearly what the Caribbean schools are doing.

Thx

Evereadyclassic
05-10-2012, 10:44 PM
@Sabastudent123456 -

I read your posts thoroughly and understand some of your concerns/comments. The bottom line is that in today's internet age, where prospectives have quick access to such forums (something that did not exist 15 years ago), it is truly the responsibility of such prospectives to do a thorough research of pros and cons of these Caribbean programs and then self-assess honestly the probability of getting thru the program. And in that sense you and others are doing exactly what should be done - good open discussions on various viewpoints that express your personal experience with said program. Then, let the responsible prospective make their own risk assessment.

As you well know by now, Saba and ALL Caribbean programs are primarily FOR PROFIT business models FIRST. To do this administration will accept the maximum number of students that the island will accomodate (which has reached it's maximum point by now). They well know that a certain percentage of students will not make it thru the program and will be self-terminated by the end of second semester.

Now what of the remaining students beyond 2nd semester? The number of clinical spots is limited and will always fluctutate based on certain factors out of control of the Saba administration office in Devens, MA. Hence, the school does vary the level of difficulty to match the expected demand. So, your suspicion is correct - the exam difficulty level is adjusted to match fluctuations in clincial spot availability. Is it fair? Well, it is definitely not ideal to say the least and does not occur at U.S. programs but the numbers are kept in check with clinical spots at U.S. schools.

All Caribbean programs (and Saba is no exception - trust me I have been associated with this school since the mid-1990s) are in many senses a stepping stone for the faculty as well. Some use it as a nice means for retirement income, others use it to gain a residency spot in the U.S. This has not changed over the past 15 years. Now that's a perspective for all you readers out there! But that is just the nature of the Caribbean game. Where I am going with this is that the teaching will not necessarily be stellar in all cases and exams are not always going to be written under ideal circumstances unfortunately - a bypproduct of some of these individuals being non-physicians and not really having a "practical" clinical perspective on subject matter and heavily use a research approach. But that is a downfall of U.S. programs as well. In a ideal situation all medical schools would be taught by physicians in their respective areas of expertise with minimal input from true research only type individuals.

By the way - the issue of keeping graduating numbers from the island in line with fluctuations in clinical spots is very much a response to the California Medical Board coming down hard on schools such as Ross and AUA that have an over-abundance of students on waiting lists. This became an issue a few years back.

you've been associated with them how?

Pinetrees
05-12-2012, 02:36 PM
you've been associated with them how?

What are you asking here...seattle is associated with whom?

TNF-alpha
05-15-2012, 07:02 PM
I'm in 4th right now and were down 59 students and we started with maybe 98. Let's break down the truth about Saba. Yes, it's a hard school, but for good reason. Lots of students say, "Oh! We dont need to know this - it's such detailed crap. Why do I need to waste my time and learn this?" I said that, actually. Well, now that I'm in 4th - I bought UWORLD and guess what?? EVERYTHING we were taught is coming up in one question or another. Not only that, you review subjects so much that by the time you're in 4th, you start to speak and recall the information at the drop of a dime. Things just build on from there. A few of my friends who just took the step got scores in the 250s. The school is boot camp -- but I didnt leave my entire life back home so that I could chill on Saba, breeze through with minimal effort and get sub-par step score. Let me re-iterate, this school is hard. If you're not willing to give up the next 2 years of your life so that you can fully, and completely understand medical sciences - dont come here. They just posted the residency match list and almost 25% (and I think it may have been more) matched in Canada, with great residencies. Sometimes I really want to kick my labtop over the desk cause thats what I stare at all day long. But I was willing to put the work in, so I dont complain. Now, onto these documents. Yes, they're out there. Everyone knows what happened to the Pharm & Path shelf exams. But, uhhh, did anyone who went into any of those shelf exams with a passing grade, fail? No. They didnt. Only if you were failing pharm or path going into the shelf exam did you fail. I didnt even know about documents until 3rd semester. Honestly, I NEVER studied for a shelf exam at Saba (except Micro/Immuno - holy cheese that pooh pooh was dense) and you know why? I never had to. If you made above 80's on all of your block exams, then shelf was comparatively easy. I got a 90 my physio shelf with the only prep having was making above 80s on my block exams and a good nights rest the day before. Oh and the immuno/micro grades. Yeah, they failed 14 people from my class - and most of them were 74.4, unfortunately. Good hardworking people. But, sympathy is not granted because you work hard. It's given to you if you know how to integrate massive amount of information and utilize it correctly. Plus, the micro presentation grades were graded so that it wouldnt exactly help nor bring your current grade. My micro presentation grade was my course score as most of classmates presentation grades were too. If you want to chill on a beach and take medical school lightly, dont come to Saba. I'll stick with the hard *** profs and actually get the residency I want.

Windward
05-15-2012, 07:31 PM
I'm in 4th right now and were down 59 students and we started with maybe 98.

The current 4th semester class started with 96 students.

44 are now in semester 4
38 are off the island
14 repeated a course at some point - most are now in semester 3

benevolo
05-15-2012, 09:43 PM
The current 4th semester class started with 96 students.

44 are now in semester 4
38 are off the island
14 repeated a course at some point - most are now in semester 3
Most of the people gone probably weren't cut out for med school, as tough as it is to admit about our friends/classmates. Better to get your *** kicked at Saba and become a great knowledgable doctor or fail trying. It would be worse going to some weak Carib school that lets everyone pass only to get the hammer dropped when you do poorly on Step 1, or even worse fail to find a residency.

Go big or go home, right?

seattle
05-16-2012, 10:18 AM
In the past 10 years Saba (especially post-California approval), has become truly a 2nd chance school for those individuals who deserved to get into a North American Medical School but could not due to ridiculous circumstances. In other words, people who have high MCAT and science GPAs with no apparent cause for rejection from a US or Canadian medical school. Due to the extreme rigor nowdays in the program, only individuals who fit this profile will succeed. Furthermore, in order to continue to retain California approval (which aims to minimize Step exam repeats and waitlist for clinicals in Caribbean programs), and increasing difficulty in obtaining residency the school will only aim to narrow the field to those who have the capacity to engage in an extremely rigorous curriculum and can pass Step exams. For those who hope to use Saba as a means of a 2nd chance school towards an M.D. qualification with medicocre MCAT and/or science GPA will not make it thru this particular program and it is not a good fit school for those particular individuals. Prior to 10 years ago this was not the case, but weaker undergraduate applicants should steer clear of this school.

sgMD
05-18-2012, 11:58 AM
I got a 90 my physio shelf with the only prep having was making above 80s on my block exams and a good nights rest the day before. Oh and the immuno/micro grades. ..... I'll stick with the hard *** profs and actually get the residency I want.

:)))))))))))))
nowadays you can fail all your blocks and still get 90+ on your shelves :))))) lol

sabastudent123456
05-18-2012, 11:33 PM
See guys, I know what all of you are saying. Saba is a hard school...probably (almost certainly?) the hardest school in the Caribbean. You're right...I understand that. The problem is that half of the people who are applying for admission and getting in aren't understanding it because they're the people that end up failing out. My aim is to appeal to those people who are mediocre students but just don't realize it (like seattle said). Obviously we all have excuses for not getting into Cdn/US med schools, but people need to know how things are on the island instead of thinking that "working hard" will get them through. The majority of people I know that failed out didn't fail because they partied all of the time or slacked off. They worked their butts off and it still wasn't good enough. You guys know what Saba is like...how much can you really party on that place? I got so bored that I'd study just because I had no more TV to watch on my laptop.

Regardless, the people who will easily make it through won't listen to me anyways...and nor should they. Yes, undergrad is a whole different ball game than Saba, but if you had a 3.7 @ U of T you're probably not going to fail out. If you worked hard in undergrad and still had a hard time though, don't kid yourself into thinking that just working hard will get you through Saba. The proof is in the numbers...over half of the people who start a semester won't make it through all 5 semesters straight through. These people who fail out aren't "dumb" and I'd argue that a lot of them (especially the ones that fail in 3rd or 4th) would make it through most of the other Carib schools. The point on them getting crappy residencies or whatever is a completely different story and I suspect benevolo knows more about that than I do, but I guess making it through a diff school and at least getting a chance on the Step is better than going to Saba and getting the boot in 3rd semester, right?

So to sum up...know what you're getting into if you go to Saba. If you go then realize that you ended up in hell, don't say that no one ever tried to warn you. At the same time, if you make it through, the rewards are there to be had just as the previous posters mentioned.

And TNF, I have no idea what kind of UWorld you're doing, but there is absolutely no way that everything we learned is tested. Micro is the probably the worst too...some of the specific garbage that we were expected to know for block exams isn't in Kaplan, it's not in DIT and it's most definitely not in UWorld. No one is ever going to ask me to identify the exact 3hr period at night during which I'm likely to see a worm or to differentiate between all the different Schistosomas again. I remember our block 3 exam had one question about Staph or Strep - I think that says it all. Then again, who needs to know Staph and Strep when you have people getting Tularemia all over the place (sarcasm). Obviously they can't just teach us like DIT or we'd have one hour of class a week, but for the (few) profs that don't know how to test on stuff that matters, what is it that you actually learn? Those aren't hard *** profs, they're stupid profs who shouldn't be teaching or who should be reprimanded by the school but won't be.

You also missed my point on the presentations...a couple of semesters ago, the presentation grades didn't get posted until after shelf grades came back which was my main point - even if you do want to fail people with 74.4, fine - you gotta have a cutoff somewhere right? But at least give them the presentation grade up front so they know what they need between block 5 and the shelf to pass. I can't figure out from your post how they did it from your semester, but for the people that got 74.4 getting an 80 on the presentation vs getting a 90 would have been the difference so saying that most people got their course grade doesn't mean anything. Just because someone averaged 74 on their blocks doesn't mean they deserved a 74 on their presentation just as someone who got a 90 on blocks doesn't necessarily deserve a 90 on their presentation.

benevolo
05-19-2012, 08:02 AM
but I guess making it through a diff school and at least getting a chance on the Step is better than going to Saba and getting the boot in 3rd semester, right?

It's not better, because if you aren't a strong enough student to make it through Saba, you probably aren't going to do very well on the step 1, and you could possibly even fail it. If that's what kind of student you are, it's better for you to fail out after paying for 3 semesters than 5, or pass the step and pay for all 10 semesters and go through all med school but fail to get a residency because you got a 190 on step 1.

rokshana
05-19-2012, 08:16 AM
It's not better, because if you aren't a strong enough student to make it through Saba, you probably aren't going to do very well on the step 1, and you could possibly even fail it. If that's what kind of student you are, it's better for you to fail out after paying for 3 semesters than 5, or pass the step and pay for all 10 semesters and go through all med school but fail to get a residency because you got a 190 on step 1.

i have to disagree with that...saba is not THE model for medical education...there isn't one model that is THE successful model...people have different studying styles and while one model is good for a student, it may not be a good one for another...sgu, ross, auc, saba...all successful schools...all have different methods...and the same student could perform differently at these schools...doesn't mean that they won't do well on the steps if they go to a school with a different method.

frankly, with the way saba is described here, i wouldn't have done well with such a pressure cooker of a school (one of the reasons i didn't pick ross), but i succeeded by going to a school that was more in line with the way i learn.

benevolo
05-19-2012, 05:50 PM
i have to disagree with that...saba is not THE model for medical education...there isn't one model that is THE successful model...people have different studying styles and while one model is good for a student, it may not be a good one for another...sgu, ross, auc, saba...all successful schools...all have different methods...and the same student could perform differently at these schools...doesn't mean that they won't do well on the steps if they go to a school with a different method.

I didn't say it was the ideal model. I'm just explaining why it's a good method, but as you said people may have different preferences for what kind of school they would go to. You might do well at another school if you have the motivation to push yourself hard. Saba is good at forcing people to work hard who otherwise might slack off at an easier school.

INRmorethan4
05-19-2012, 06:36 PM
I love all these comments from people that have never attended the school including a moderator. Saba forces you to work hard and attend classes period that's why they take role call everyday. Other schools don't force you to attend. Looking back I'm glad I was forced or I would have missed 20-30% of classes. Also as a recent grad now finishing up my last year in residency I can tell you I feel like I got just as good an education as most of my peers including DO's. Most of them have debt of 200-250K, I owe 100K so who has the last laugh? Yes the school can be hard, its basically 20 months of hell and fear of getting below a 75% but in the end it pays off and most of my class did really well on all the steps and landed a good residency. If you go down there and work hard it will pay off in the end and I'm glad I went over SGU, Ross & AUC (all very expensive).

seattle
05-19-2012, 06:50 PM
I love all these comments from people that have never attended the school including a moderator.

First, if you in fact did graduate from Saba, then I assume you are a intelligent enough individual to realize that you should not make statements that you cannot verify nor have no clue about...just a observation that might serve you well since you are as you state in the last year of residency (and I assumed you would know better). It could also easily be stated, without verification that you could easily log onto a forum state you worked hard at Saba, are now in last year of residency and not be telling one iota of truth the whole time...think about it. I am being sarcastic. I am sure you attended Saba, but you really need to be careful about throwing around comments that you know nothing about.


Most of them have debt of 200-250K, I owe 100K so who has the last laugh?

Yes, BUT did you consider that the number you throw out so easily $100K does NOT include interest paid back on the life of the loan. If you are Canadian there are better financing options but all thru recent years I have been warning prospectives that U.S. applicants (other than those who can fund the education personally, which is few) should consider very heavily the expensive and horrible Ed-Invest loans. These are variable interest loans which can max out at a ridiculous rate based on the LIBOR (London Exchange Rate). So, the $100K that you quote will easily blossom beyond $200K over the life of the loan.

In terms of working hard...that is not enough and oversimplifies the difficulty level of this curriculum for a prospective. There are many people who think working hard is the only key to success. It is an important ingredient, BUT certainly not sufficient to getting thru this curriculum. One has to have the mental capacity to handle multiple subject matters simultaneously and in a cumulative fashion. Saba in recent years (past 10 years) has become a school that in my opinon is really only suitable for those individuals who could not get into a North American Medical School although they deserved to in the first place. So, these candidates in fact do get thru the program (as I would expect) as they would have at a U.S. or Canadian school. No big surprise.

By the way, say hi to Dr.W (Immuno and Genetics) and Dr.L (Pathology) if you are still in touch with them...since I know them...oh but I didn't attend Saba as you say eventhough you do not know me....lol. I certainly respect individual opinions on such open forums, but I do suggest that prior to easily throwing around accusations, which you are not familiar with, you might want to verify FIRST and state second. Hope all is well in residency and you continue to exercise good judgment.

INRmorethan4
05-19-2012, 08:13 PM
First I wasn't talking about you so ease your tone, there's other mods that post here correct?

And I hated Dr L and his horrible teaching wife Dr W. There's a reason they left AUC. I'm not here to bash them but I preferred Dr J over L and think it was a crime for him to leave Saba. Everyone has their own learning style.

2nd yes I throw out the 100K and some might have more but most jobs will pay off a portion of that loan anyway when your done with residency. Yes work hard! Not to down play my skills but if I can get through anyone can.

seattle
05-20-2012, 09:58 AM
First I wasn't talking about you so ease your tone, there's other mods that post here correct?

And I hated Dr L and his horrible teaching wife Dr W. There's a reason they left AUC. I'm not here to bash them but I preferred Dr J over L and think it was a crime for him to leave Saba. Everyone has their own learning style.

2nd yes I throw out the 100K and some might have more but most jobs will pay off a portion of that loan anyway when your done with residency. Yes work hard! Not to down play my skills but if I can get through anyone can.

OK, fair enough. Most everyone dislike Drs. W and L over the years. I did not have an issue with Dr. W. But you are correct, anyone who was at a top-notch U.S. program and then leaves to go to AUC and then finally settles on Saba (not saying Saba is subpar) has issues in their past. At least that certainly would be my guess.

In terms of the $100K, my warning is more aimed specifically at the U.S. applicants since the Ed-Invest loans are horrendous last time I checked. So, the total owed over the life of the loan (assuming complete $100K is taken out by a student) blossoms to an astronomical amount over the years. You are correct, that depending on subfield, physicians overall are paid handsomely and can repay the loans but the variable interest clause on those Ed-Invest loans is a killer nonetheless. I was lucky enough to fund almost all of my education thru family help.

Yes, working hard is a key ingredient, but more importantly (in my opinion) is an prospectives honest assesment of whether they can handle the rigors of Saba's curriculum. Since about 2004, this school is no longer suitable for those who feel it is an easy, forgiving 2nd chance at an M.D. This was the case in the mid-1990's, although people failed out then as well. But much more forgiving. So, all in all I say that in the past 10 years, Saba is really suitable only for those individuals who truly deserved getting into a U.S. or Canadian medical school but due to ridiculous competition were turned down. I am guessing that you are one of those type of individuals (who had a good MCAT and GPA) and was turned down by a North American school. So, it does not surprise me you did well at Saba and beyond.

Again, congratulations on your last year of residency...you worked hard....you earned it. I wish you well on your career.

classic
06-05-2012, 07:35 PM
I graduated 3 years ago and Saba wasn't easy then but it is a good program and regardless of teaching syle, it's important to learn the information being thrown your way. The fact is that residency isn't easy and you have to adapt to many styles of teaching. You're expected to learn, even if an attending doesn't like you and hates to teach. When you can't see past the teaching syle to get the information you truly need to learn, you will fail. Even after 3 years of residency and being Chief Resident at my program, I can say there is a 'teaching moment' in everything- you just have to look harder sometimes. The picture is much bigger than Life on Saba.

seattle
06-07-2012, 10:04 AM
The fact is that residency isn't easy and you have to adapt to many styles of teaching. You're expected to learn, even if an attending doesn't like you and hates to teach. When you can't see past the teaching syle to get the information you truly need to learn, you will fail. The picture is much bigger than Life on Saba.

Yes, this is very true. Coming from a family of physicians I knew what lay ahead in residency during my stay at Saba and adaptability is a key characteristic for any graduate. You are correct that not all (and I would say many attendings) do not necessarily care to devote time to truly teaching and coaching a resident. And thus one has to adapt to learning on one's own and piece together the puzzle. Very unfortunate that this is the case, but again finding true dedicated teachers as attendings is very rare.

MerlinDoc85
06-07-2012, 10:33 AM
.....................

drrichand1
06-11-2012, 05:08 PM
saba's to small

Dr Coconut
06-11-2012, 08:02 PM
If you forgot the second "o" to make your point ironically comical, well played...

Evereadyclassic
06-16-2012, 01:48 PM
saba's to small

That's what she said...

sabastudent123456
06-21-2012, 08:52 PM
I have to say...I'm really impressed with this school for lowering the pass rate to 70%. I'm sure that exams will be harder and some people will still fail out (especially in 1st), but I think that this move enables students to have a better chance to make it through the program. There are of course a trillion different reasons as to why they did this, but in the end my opinion is that there were simply too many people failing. I think that someone also realized that being in class from 8-5 in 3rd is a little insane and those kids are going to need a bit of a hand (and deservedly so) to make it through.

Regardless, as much as I was unimpressed the institution before, I have to give credit where credit is due and I think this is the right step in making Saba a better place to be.

seattle
06-22-2012, 11:51 AM
I have to say...I'm really impressed with this school for lowering the pass rate to 70%. I'm sure that exams will be harder and some people will still fail out (especially in 1st), but I think that this move enables students to have a better chance to make it through the program...but in the end my opinion is that there were simply too many people failing. I think that someone also realized that being in class from 8-5 in 3rd is a little insane and those kids are going to need a bit of a hand (and deservedly so) to make it through.

From what I observed when I was on the island, I seriously doubt the rationale behind lowering the passing rate to 70% was influenced by too many people failing. Dr.S attempted to address this issue with what he referred to as the "powers that be" meaning Dr. W, Dr. L, and Dr. D. but said that all 3 were strongly against lowering passing threshold just to accomodate the lower performing students. Similarly, I doubt the school is very sympathetic to long hours in the classroom. I addressed these issues with Drs. W and L when I was in basic sciences and both told me the tough program measures were there to filter down to the strongest student sample to move on. Dr.W's exact words to me were "offshore programs have a stigma associated with them....you surely know that. If students are complaining now, you do know how much more difficult times can be during clinicals and especially residency. Your dad can surely verify this to be true..." She knew I come from a family of 17 physicians scattered around the country at University teaching hospital settings...so I knew what she meant.

The reduction to 70% from the feedback I am receiving from people on the island now is really aimed at the upper semester courses such as Pathology I and II where more USMLE style and difficulty level questions will be included on block exams to further differentiate the already strong student population even further. It allows them to predict with greater accuracy the number of students in a particular semester that would likely score close to 99% percentile on the Step 1. I think that has always been the main focus - to outshine other schools and prove the credibility of this offshore eduational model. So, I would say the strong students will still stay strong, although more challenged on some of the block exam questions. But the lower tier would still fall thru the cracks and the overall percentage making it thru the program would still stay the same as before. Time will tell....

sabastudent123456
06-22-2012, 12:24 PM
seattle, we know how Saba rumors work, but from what I heard, this move had nothing to do with Dr. L or Dr. W - it came from the higher powers that are in Devens. Like you, I HIGHLY doubt that Dr. L and Dr. W would have allowed this to happen if it was their call. I also know that several students have recently let Devens know about their issues with the school through letters, emails and such so I guess there's a chance that the people in Devens actually listened. I was chatting with one of the profs about the research paper a few semesters ago - he made a really good point to me when he said that Saba is a business that operates like any other business. If the customers become dissatisfied and tell other potential customers about their issues, the business will ultimately fail. If enough students were displeased with the school (trust me, there are a plethora of them) and if they made their opinions known then maybe the school actually listened.

I think saying that they'll have more USMLE type questions in Path I and Path II is a bit of a copout even if it is true. Dr. L taught one block in Path I and nothing in Path II. If you look at the class averages in Path II, they're ridiculously high. They can add 5 "challenging" questions to every Path II exam if they want, it's not going to make very many people fail even if they leave the pass rate at 75. 4th and 5th semester had the least attrition out of any semester when I was there. To me it's just an excuse that some profs are using to explain the move down to a 70. In the end, I think when you have more people failing than graduating out of a class, something needs to change...and it did. The move is going to affect people in 2nd and 3rd a lot more than it will affect people in 4th or 5th.

Also, speaking of Dr. W and Dr. L, though they're "hard" as profs, they weren't the profs that were failing a bunch of the class. It seemed like when their class average was low, they'd take responsibility for it and fix it by accepting alternate answers or tossing out the question. If they left the question in there, they'd at least explain why they think it was a fair question. Some other profs though...well when 30% of a class gets a question right and they still leave it in just because they can, it feels a little unfair. The three blocks that those two taught...2 Immuno + 1 Path - our class averages were 81, 81, 82. I'd say that's pretty reasonable.

seattle
06-22-2012, 02:26 PM
....this move had nothing to do with Dr. L or Dr. W - it came from the higher powers that are in Devens. Like you, I HIGHLY doubt that Dr. L and Dr. W would have allowed this to happen if it was their call. I also know that several students have recently let Devens know about their issues with the school through letters, emails and such so I guess there's a chance that the people in Devens actually listened.

This is very interesting. It was a long time coming, but I never thought it would actually come to pass.


To me it's just an excuse that some profs are using to explain the move down to a 70. In the end, I think when you have more people failing than graduating out of a class, something needs to change...and it did.

Yes, I was always on edge in basic sciences, not knowing if I would make it through the program. This school is ridiculously difficult (as you know). I am just impressed that Devens actually did do something about this in the end. I never thought it would happen. I had a discussion with Dr. S some years back about lowering the pass rate to 70% but at that time he said it just was not going to happen, although he was very much in support of lowering the pass threshold to 70%. I guess from what you are saying a lot of people must have been failing for Devens to take notice! I wonder then what the attrition rate has been in recent times down there? It must have been creeping up fairly high for Dr. B to take notice in Devens?


Also, speaking of Dr. W and Dr. L, though they're "hard" as profs, they weren't the profs that were failing a bunch of the class. It seemed like when their class average was low, they'd take responsibility for it and fix it by accepting alternate answers or tossing out the question. If they left the question in there, they'd at least explain why they think it was a fair question. Some other profs though...well when 30% of a class gets a question right and they still leave it in just because they can, it feels a little unfair. The three blocks that those two taught...2 Immuno + 1 Path - our class averages were 81, 81, 82. I'd say that's pretty reasonable.

This is also very interesting to me! Looks like Drs. L and W did ease up a bit on this issue. When I was there the upper semesters were just complaining that they would never toss out badly written questions. I am sure professors have changed over the years so I am not sure who the other ones would be that are not changing suboptimal written questions. The averages you state are pretty much what I had observed as well when I was there.

sgMD
06-23-2012, 09:37 AM
it's not the matter of some profs trying to fail out students... it's just that they suck sooooo bad at teaching that the majority of their students fail a simple test... after you come out of saba and start preparing for the step you realize how much there is in pathology that you don't know!! the path profs can't even speak english properly, let alone teaching the most important course in medical school...

maladdy85
08-22-2012, 10:48 AM
Well, now having completed basic science on Saba, I would like to offer my opinion which is that I WOULD recommend this school to others (who are up to the challenge). Yes the program is hard, the school is not perfect and there are many frustrations along the way, and not everyone will make it. However, after enduring 20 months on the island, I feel really prepared to take Step 1 (especially after scoring surprisingly well on exit). Basically what I am trying to say is not everyone has a terrible experience at this school, and like all opportunities it is what you make it.







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